Bars with a view: LA's best rooftop bars and oceanside drinks

Check out LA's best bars with a view, from Venice's beachside sunsets to rooftop bars with city views over the Strip

Photograph: Gaszton Gal
Thompson Beverly Hills

What is it that they say about smog? Oh yeah, beautiful sunsets. Make LA's haze work for you at these top bars and beachside spots, where the views rightfully rival the booze. From Sunset Strip's rooftop bars to Malibu's seaside cabanas, here are the city's best bars with a view.

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Photograph: Courtesy Standard Downtown
1/10

Standard Downtown

Even if you don’t hop in the pool, you can still plunge into the fun on one of the bright red waterbed pods scattered across the roof at the Downtown outpost of Andre Balaz’s hip hotel. Take the elevator up to the top, where mod furnishings give a slightly space-age vibe—the perfect backdrop for a crowd ranging from folks waiting for next year’s Burning Man to hotel guests checking out the scene. Weekend afternoons call for cocktail lounging—try the sweet and sour Hennessy Lemonade—but beware the $20 cover after 7pm, which doesn’t deter the lines that can stretch out into the parking lot.

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Downtown
Photograph: Courtesy Petite Ermitage
2/10

Petite Ermitage

Tucked in a residential neighborhood in West Hollywood, just off the bustle of the Strip, this eclectic, charming gem is half your parents' version of European sophistication, half retreat for actual Europeans. With 360° views and virtually no scene, the boho-chic hotel's rooftop club has plenty of fireside cabanas to sip on love potions—from French 75 to Infante, a rose water and nutmeg–spiked elixir—for a romantic hideaway or indoor-outdoor poolside patio where you can gaze out over the city, an oasis all your own. Actually, you won't be completely alone—the rooftop garden is recognized as a hummingbird and butterfly sanctuary by the National Wildlife Federation, so you’ll have some winged company.

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West Hollywood
Photograph: Gaszton Gal
3/10

Thompson Beverly Hills

The bi-level stunner at this Beverly Hills hotel offers wraparound views of the city, with the added fun of an upper-level, outdoor pool deck where people-watchers can gaze down at the scene around the small bar. Though open to hotel guests and those with a coveted elevator key, the rooftop deck is a city oasis even on weekends, which might be a plus because you’ll be able to snag a chaise lounge. When it does fill up, day or night, expect to see ladies with mandatory blowouts noshing on tempting, small-bite sliders and the after-work crowd downing happy hour martinis, a bargain at $7 apiece.

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4/10

SkyBar

The rooftop bar that started it all, the Mondrian's Skybar still retains its secret Sunset Strip entryway, complete with dress-to-impress entry and nightlife cred—this is one of the rare poolside bars where people really do jump in after a night of cocktails. The all-ages crowd ranges from wide-eyed ingénues to aging Robert Evans types, but no matter where you fall in the spectrum, the Mexican-style oasis of flowering walls and gorgeous nooks win you over, especially with mojito in hand.

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West Hollywood
5/10

High Rooftop Lounge

Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply in LA, making this an in-demand spot for sun-kissed Venice Beach locals who occasionally help the place live up to its name with the good stuff. Even if you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to make a reservation. After all, there’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand to get Angelenos buzzing. Getting chilly? Evening bar-goers can stay past sundown wrapped up in one of the bar’s cozy blankets and a spiked cocoa ($10) or hot root beer float ($10). Start your staycation with a piñacoco sangria with a spiced rum float ($11) or passion fruit mojito ($13). If you don’t like your drinks sweet, stick to local craft brews to pair with midnight (gourmet) munchies like the mini lobster roll ($5) and a bacon, cream cheese, jalapeño hot dog ($9).

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Venice
Courtesy the Fonda Theatre
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The Fonda Theatre

A smoke break doesn’t mean that you’ll miss the show at Hollywood's Fonda Theatre (formerly the Music Box), where not only is the music hooked up to the rooftop "speakeasy," but the live on-stage performance is also projected on the exterior wall. Unfortunately, you do have to buy tickets to the gig to gain entrance, but the prime perch—lounge on one of the scattered sofas on the outdoor patio—from the historic Spanish Revival–style building offers an unobstructed view of Hollywood as you listen to indie faves like Alt-J and the Alabama Shakes. Throw back a brewski and gaze down the boulevard as you channel your inner Dracula, performed on the Fonda stage soon after it opened in 1926.

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Hollywood
7/10

Perch LA

This rooftop bistro is one of the prettiest in town with its patterned tile floors, dead-on view of the Central Library and potted trees full of twinkly lights. Downtown locals, plus a few hundred of their closest friends, sit on velour bar stools and plush sofas inside the eclectic boudoir-themed bar or fireside on the outdoor patio. From any seat, you’ll want to sample the wide selection of Kirs that go beyond Crème de Cassis—try a tasty, blackberry-flavored Crème de Mure—and other French by-the-glass pours. The after-work crowd drops in for happy hour, dubbed Apéritif Hour, weekdays from 4 to 6pm, while late-night partygoers can enjoy a live DJ on Tuesdays from 9pm-2am.

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Downtown
Photograph: Courtesy Moonshadows
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Moonshadows

Forget flip-flops and sunscreen—dolphin sightings are de riguer at this longtime PCH watering hole. With an outdoor lounge area, lined with white beds and curtained booths, that hangs right over the Pacific, you're practically within blowhole distance of the pods that swim close to shore. Catch afternoon rays at weekend brunch or laze on the sundeck at sunset or after dark, when Malibu locals turn out for margaritas and the salt air mixes with pretty young things.

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Malibu
Photograph: Courtesy The Roof on Wilshire
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The Roof on Wilshire

From weekend brunch—tuck into chef Eric Greenspan’s famed pancake lasagna as you sip bottomless mimosas—to sunset drinks and bites, you’ll find full views paired with staycation cocktails and eats at the Hotel Wilshire’s rooftop restaurant/lounge. As nights get cooler, slip into one of the banquettes that line the pool and warm up with drinks like Earl the Pearl ($12), dark rum and Earl Grey vanilla-cream tea, or Blossom Toddy ($12), a mix of bourbon, honey, orange bitters and black tea.

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Los Angeles
Photograph: Pagoda Bar
10/10

Yamashiro

This beautiful replica of a Japanese palace was originally built as a private residence and has been operating as a restaurant for more than 30 years. It's one of those places that you visit when you first move to LA and promptly forget about in the crush of new bars and neighborhood favorites. But the storybook view (and the winding drive up the hill) is worth rediscovering with its mountains-to-ocean vista. Come for happy hour (Mon-Wed 5-7pm)—during summer months, stock up on organic produce at Yamashiro Farmers Market (Thursday from 5-9pm) beforehand—when city lights come sparkling to life and otherwise overpriced appetizers are $6 and a glass of sake sangria just $4.

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Hollywood

Comments

1 comments
Hannan A
Hannan A

These rooftop bars are amazingly beautiful. I would definitely visit a place like this to spend some time. Even the thought of going to such a place is rejuvenating for the soul. Rooftop bars are a great way of expanding business without the need of more real estate.